Colour Analysis

Introduction

Have you ever noticed that certain clothing colours make you look tired and washed out, while others instantly make you look stunning? You haven't just imagine this; there is a reason why this happens. And it has to do with colour theory.

Selecting the wrong colours for your clothes can leave you looking ill or off. If you want to have a wardrobe that makes you feel great, it's paramount to find the colours that will flatter you the most. And colour analysis is a great tool to help you find them.

How colours affect appearance

In the world of aesthetics, you will find three types of colour:

Fabulous, universal, and wrong colours

1) Colours that look fabulous on you

These colours bring your natural appearance to life and enhance your skin, eyes, and hair. When wearing these colours, you will find that you don’t need a lot of makeup - a fabulous colour reduces imperfections such as dark circles under your eyes, lines, and discolouration while bringing out a healthy complexion. You’ll appear bright and awake.

You might have stumbled across your fabulous colours by accident when trying on clothes. They are those that you are drawn to again and again because you somehow look really good in them. But what makes a colour look fabulous on you

The answer is that a colour will look great on you if it shares the same colour aspects (or colour dimensions) with your natural colouring. You have a natural colour palette that is manifested in your skin, eyes, and hair. So any colour that complements these colour aspects will enhance your natural colouring and make you look great.

For example, why does Gisele Bündchen look so great in the autumnal green on the left? Because her natural colouring is muted and warm just like that particular green. This colour emphasises these tones in her natural colouring, which makes her look healthy and glowing.

2) Colours that look good on you - neither great nor bad

These colours don’t look bad on you, but they aren’t fabulous either. These are the colours anyone can wear because their colour dimensions are fairly neutral - meaning they are neither too cool nor too warm, neither too dark nor too light, and neither too bright nor too muted.

These colours are also known as universal colours and they look okay on everyone but are not the best. You can see in the image above that the teal colour doesn't look bad on Gisele, but it doesn't look as great as the green colour. Gisele's skin doesn't glow as much in this image.

3) Colours that look bad or wrong on you

These colours just make you look off or sick. They can make you look drained and even highlight or create false impressions of dark circles under your eyes and blemishes. Your hair will look drab, your face will look gaunt and often give the impression of discolouration.

Why do some colours look so terrible on you? It's because they clash with your natural colour palette. Their colour dimensions are too different from yours.

For example, if you have warm undertones - like Gisele - a cool blue will make you look ill because it has cool undertones. The dark blue makes her look pale and tired and emphasises the shadows beneath her eyes.

Colour theory

I have mentioned colour aspects or colour dimensions several times now. But what are they? For this, we need to understand colour theory.

I won't go into detail here, you just need to know the very basics. (If you want to learn more about colour theory, please refer to this article.)

Colour theory states that a colour can be described by its settings on the three dimensions of colour:

1) Hue

The hue scale tells us the temperature of a colour. It can be warm, neutral, or cool.

Hue Scale - Colour Analysis - the concept wardrobe

2) Value

The value scale tells us how light or dark a colour is.

Value Scale - Colour Analysis - the concept wardrobe

3) Chroma

And finally, the chroma scale tells us whether a colour is muted, neutral, or bright.

Chroma Scale - Colour Analysis - the concept wardrobe

Colour analysis

Just like a clothing colour can be described via the three colour scales, your natural colouring can also be described this way. You might have warm, cool, or neutral undertones in your skin, eyes, and hair. Your features may be very dark or they may be very light. And your overall appearance might be very muted, or it might be really bright and clear.

The aim of colour analysis is to determine your colour profile. Where do you sit on each of the three colour scales?

In essence, colour analysis determines the settings on the three value scales of your natural colour palette and then matches those with colours that share the same dimensions.

Seasonal colour analysis

Seasonal colour analysis is the most widely used form of colour analysis. It consists either of four, twelve, sixteen, or even twenty eight colour categories or seasons (depending on which theory is used). Each colour category has its own colour settings and matching colour palette.

It is important to mention that seasonal colour analysis does not match colours to your personality or body shape. Rather, it looks at certain aspects of the natural colouring of your skin, eyes and hair and matches those with colours that will reduce the appearance of imperfections and blemishes and will bring out all of your natural beauty.

In other words, it shows you which colours make you look washed out and which ones make you come alive.

Let's take another look at Gisele Bündchen:

Now you can see how the dark blue colour really looks wrong on her. Gisele is a Soft Autumn; her colour dimensions are muted, warm, and medium in value. The dark blue colour is far too dark and cool for her. It actually makes her skin look pale and her hair dull. This is because the dark blue is part of the Dark Winter colour palette, which is dark, cool, and bright.

The green colour, on the other hand, is spot on. It lifts the warm, golden undertones of her skin, highlights her eyes, and makes her hair glow. This is because the colour is part of the Soft Autumn colour palette and has the same colour dimensions as Gisele's natural colouring.

What's next?

In this section of the concept wardrobe, we will find out more about seasonal colour analysis and how you can determine your colour season. Read on!

I.
An introduction to seasonal colour analysis, including colour theory and the history of using colours in fashion.
II.
This guide will help you determine which of the twelve colour seasons you fall into.
III.
Once you know your colour season, it's time to find out which colours look best on you.